Doug Marshall’s 2013 Rebirth in Bellator Shocking, But Awesome At The Same Time

By Adam Martin

If you told me at this time last year that Doug Marshall would be fighting for a world title this weekend, I would have laughed at you.

A year later, though, and you’d be laughing at me, because tonight Marshall, the former WEC light heavyweight champion, gets a chance to fight Alexander Shlemenko for the Bellator World Middleweight Championship in the main event of Bellator 109. For a 36-year-old fighter who many were calling to retire just last year, that’s not bad.

Since debuting with Bellator on November 30, 2012, Marshall has won four straight fights, including KO wins over Brett Cooper and Andreas Spang and a decision over Sultan Aliev, to win the eight-man Bellator Season 8 Middleweight Tournament, and an additional KO win over Kala Hose to qualify for the tournament in the first place. And if he can defeat Shlemenko on Friday night, that will make him 5-0 in the last 360ish days. An amazing record for any fighter within the time span, but particularly a 36 year old who most people didn’t think had anything left in the tank.

Although Marshall started his career a solid 8-3 in WEC, a loss to Brian Stann at WEC 33 – his third knockout loss in WEC — signalled his exit from the organization, and he made his way over to California promotion Tachi Palace Fights. Marshall won his first couple of fights there, but then was brutally KO’d by TUF reject Kyacey Uscola and subbed out by Giva Santana to lose his spot on their roster. Marshall took another regional circuit fight, winning by KO over some can, to get a shot in the Indian Super Fight League. Then he got KO’d by a flying knee from former DREAM star Zalg Gelesic, and that’s why people were calling for him to call it quits.

But to Marshall’s credit he persevered, ignored the haters, and went on to win a Bellator tournament to earn himself a crack at the belt and a cheque for $100,000. And if he can defeat Shlemenko for the title, particularly if it’s by KO, you can bet yourself he’ll be in line for a big contract because of his exciting fighting style.

Yes, he has a style that is “kill or be killed,” (which is why you see that all of his losses have come via knockout or submission) and Marshall’s chin is always going to be a question mark, but I really believe that among fighters outside of the UFC right now, Marshall is an elite middleweight, and possibly the best one not named Shlemenko.

This fight between Marshall and Shlemenko is for all the marbles. It’s a tough fight to call because Shlemenko is so well-rounded, and one of the most underrated pound-for-pound fighters not in the UFC, but Marshall seems to have hit his peak right now, and at this point, I can’t bet against him.

Marshall was a big underdog in the fights against Cooper, Aliev, and Spang, and he’s a big underdog yet again this weekend, but if he wins, it will complete his shocking rebirth in 2013. A shocking, but totally awesome rebirth. And one that makes you reconsider the age that an MMA fighter peaks at, because at 36, Marshall seems to be better than ever. Is he another Randy Couture? Who knows. We’ll find out tonight, though.


Bellator 109 will take place on November 22, 2013 at Sands Casino Event Center in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

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